Written by: Jenna Keighley– Senior Vice President, Racepoint Global London

Last Tuesday evening, I attended a PRCA Internal Comms Disrupted event with Coolr – one of the PRCA’s newest members. The panel, chaired by Adam Clyne of Coolr, regrouped a number of companies who were using the latest “disruptive” tool designed to make internal communications more natural, authentic and engaging for internal company stakeholders. The tool is Workplace by Facebook.

Have you heard of it? I have to admit that I hadn’t before Tuesday and I was interested by the idea of approaching your employee community in the same way that you’d approach communicating with your family and friends.

The pitch is simple and hard to argue against: Intranets are dead (and my god so boring)! Email is where ideas and actions go to hide! Don’t you dare even mention Yammer in my presence! Pfffft…. The criticism of internal comms tools can be brutal but one truth is consistent:

Creative, connected, caring companies communicate…. daily… and with Workplace by Facebook they can; from big CEO livestreams, to celebrating the individual successes of team members or directing questions to a global community. It seems incredibly smart and completely logical that the Facebook model could be applied successfully to the business environment. Indeed, the Workplace by Facebook speaker said that the platform originated as an internal Facebook tool for staff to communicate easily internally. I loved the idea that the CEO could drop in on any post to give individuals a social media pat on the back, or that anyone in the organisation could have access to champions and experts who may never otherwise have been accessible. It returns work relationships to a more human level, which is something most of us and our clients can get behind.

“So you’re a convert? Is this post just a longer way of saying Halleluiah! Praise Zuck?” Well, not quite. Towards the end of the discussion, it got interesting. One of the panellists dropped in “we are still having some issues getting all groups to use the platform”. He went on to clarify that the developers were refusing to give up their beloved Slack (of course!) and that a “younger group” of employees “flat refuse to use it”. Which made me wonder… With 50% of the workforce expected to be made up of Millennials by 2020 – those same Millennials who want to be kept in the know of what’s going on in the organisation, who are tech-savvy, who want to have a voice and be part of the internal conversation – why would certain groups be resistant to adopting a platform that seemingly ticks every box?

Perhaps it has something to do with the other trait that has been identified of this key group – the need to be clear on what a company stands for and for these values to align with their own. From a reputational perspective, Facebook has taken a kicking in recent years – to a point that I’ve seen friends, clients and colleagues actively seek to reduce their personal exposure to it. Whether that’s in retaliation for perceived “shady” practice and corporate ethics or fear over privacy and data security, the result is the same. Even without deploying an extensive qual and quant analysis of its reputation index, I feel confident that Facebook’s trust score probably (ha!) sits at an all-time low – particularly with the generation of employees increasingly occupying positions of influence.

The Workplace rep stressed that the team operated as a start-up within Facebook but I can’t help wondering if the Facebook brand could prove to be more of a curse than a blessing in the long run.

What do you think? What other tools do you see as powering the future of internal comms best practice?